Egypt: Constitutional Committee Testify to Baselessness of Charges in Shura Council Case
The latest hearings held in the case of Alaa Abdel Fattah and his co-defendants (known as the Shura Council case) demonstrated again the baseless charges held against the defendants. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network calls again on the Egyptian judiciary to stop arbitrarily detaining those facing prosecution under Egypt’s controversial 2013 Protest Law.
During the latest hearings held in the case, the prosecution witnesses responded to the defence lawyers’ questions mostly with “I cannot remember,” or “please refer to my evidence in the prosecution investigation report.” Moreover, most of the video evidence presented so far has been irrelevant to the case.
The court heard testimonies from defence witnesses including members of the committee that drew up the country’s new constitution. They said that the defendants had not organised the protest contrary to what the prosecution claims. Members of the constitutional committee maintained also that peaceful protest is a legitimate method through which public debate can be fostered. They also attested to the brutality of the police to disperse the protest. They also confirmed that individuals with whom they spoke had been badly beaten up as evidenced by their scars and torn clothes.
Yet again, the judge presiding over the case ordered that activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and his co-defendants remain in custody until their next hearing on Saturday.
On 11 June, Alaa Abdel Fattah, a prominent figure in the 2011 revolution, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “participating in a demonstration”, “assaulting a police officer” and “calling for protests”. He was initially arrested on 28 November 2013 and held in pretrial detention for 115 days before the first hearing in his case took place. He was held in detention again for another 96 days between 11 June and 15 September 2014. He has been put back in pretrial detention since 28 October. The excessive use of pre-trial detention violates both Egyptian and international law. A recently published EMHRN Trial Observation report on Alaa Abdel Fattah’s Case finds that “[Abdel Fattah’s] right to personal liberty and right not to be arbitrarily deprived of his liberty have been breached as well as his right to challenge the lawfulness of his detention without delay.”